Driving to the Arctic Ocean
and the Top of the World
The oddest part of this drive north on the dempster and the extreme north (even though we've theoretically been slowly getting used to it along the way) is that this time of year the sun literally never sets. Technically true after passing the arctic circle for about a month around the summer solstice, but pretty close for the last few days of our drive…all sunshine all the time.
And our bodies never quite got used to it. Once were in the van we have the blackout shades to put up and can sleep great, but we found ourselves constantly up well past midnight standing by the fire (with sunglasses still on) and never realizing what time it was and then waking up early the next morning to start all over again. Truly bizarre.
All of the following photos were literally taken at midnight. Mind-boggling.
We continued north through Inuvik , dealt with a rock that somehow made it all the way inside of our brake (if this is the worst of our issues on this drive we'll call it a huge win) and then kept driving south, into ground that looks like its not sure whether to be part of the land or part of the ocean.
A few ferry rides and several bridges later we finally pull into the tiny hamlet of Tuktoyktuk and looked out at the arctic ocean. It was much calmer than we would have expected any ocean to be. More like a murky lake with a slight breeze. As we look around at other vehicles everyone is sitting inside their vehicle and the few who venture out are covered head to toe and have mosquito nets covering their faces. Not a great sign.
As we sit for a few minutes we begin to see the swarm out side our vehicle as well. We try to beat the bugs to the punch and open the doors rapidly, drop our bugscreens and seem to be mostly successful. We stare out for a while looking for whales or some grandiose display of nature to welcome us or celebrate our arrival. We waited. Then we slowly admitted to ourselves that this was probably it… it was merely a tiny hamlet at the very end of a very long road. Another example of why we don’t travel for the chance to check places off a list, but for the experiences along the way.
We finally ventured out of the vehicle, sprayed up with bug spray and walked out the spit to the very end. End of the road and end of land as far north as one can get on land. Then we walked a little further, wading into shallow water and then back out again almost as quickly. Its was calm...but it was also cold.
We retreated to the safety of the van, took a bit of a nap and realized quickly we'd seen plenty of spots we would rather camp with less people and less bugs (not a bad combination). Before leaving town we decided we’d better take a full on swim in the arctic ocean…after all, we we're now pretty sure this is the one and only time we’d be here, and if you only have one chance in life to do something and you’re staring right at it- you’d better get on it! ;)